Giant Pumpkins

Growing giant pumpkins has become very competitive in Maine and in other parts of the US. The largest pumpkin grown in Maine this summer weighed 1,210 pounds. What does one do with a 1200 pound pumpkin?

Several years ago, Buzz Pinkham of Damariscotta, read a book on growing giant pumpkins that listed a number of things for which they could be used. One was to hollow out the giant gourd and use it as a boat. That summer he grew a giant pumpkin, removed the seeds and pulp, and muscled it down to the harbor for a test run. Giant pumpkins are not easily moved by one person. I can guess the process of transporting it required the help of others. By the time the day arrived for the test run about one hundred people had heard of his experiment and gathered to watch. “You can’t really sneak into town with a pumpkin boat,” he said.

That event was the seed of the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta which has become a giant of a celebration in October. Bill Clark and Buzz Pinkham are co-founders of the festival which now includes a pumpkin regatta (some pumpkin boats have outboard motors), a pumpkin decorating contest, and a parade among several other activities. There is a pumpkin smashing contest, a pumpkin drop (this year onto a police car!), a pumpkin catapult, and pumpkin firing. People spend months growing them, tending them, and preparing to smash them. By the way, it took one contestant in the paddle contest four days to hollow out the pumpkin.

How big is a giant pumpkin? Generally it is between 500 and 600 pounds. Each year at the festival people give away seeds to grow giant pumpkins – insurance for more contenders in next year’s festival. This year’s winning giant pumpkin was grown by Elroy and Missy Morgan. “It grew 30 pounds per day for three weeks, weighing only 167 pounds on Aug. 3rd,” reports the Bangor Daily News.

“I’ve had people say, ‘That doesn’t make sense,'” said Buzz. “We spend too much time in our lives trying to make sense of things. You have to have a day when things don’t make much sense – and enjoy it.”

The festival lasts about a week. You might want to include it in next year’s travel plans.

Photos of this event and more information including how to harvest a giant pumpkin

Videos of 2007 Pumpkin Boats and Festival about 7 minutes, and 2008 video, 2 minutes